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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  September 2, 2017 3:00am-4:00am PDT

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one-belt policy to go into africa, greece, the bahamas, jamaica. >> that is going to do it for tonight. that's all for "hardball" right now. chris matthews, he returns next week. join him tuesday. special guest al frank. . the rachel maddow show starts now. >> thanks to you at home for joining us at this hour. rachel will be back next week. now we have a ton and a half to tell you about this evening. the white house has spent the week hinting and signaling about an eminent decision from the president on the fate of 800,000 young immigrants in this country. and tonight we have some surprising news from that story which we did not see coming and we'll be getting to that news tonight. but tonight the chemical plant that we've been telling you about in crosby, texas, the arkema plant that had to be abandoned in the flood, tonight, towers of flame erupted from that plant. and we have an intriguing new glimpse into the trump-russia
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investigation and what the special counsel's office is looking at now. all of that is ahead tonight. but we begin tonight with a weather report. it was a scorcher in san francisco today. the high was 99 degrees. normal summer in san francisco can be quite chilly. but today it was so hot they actually issued an excessive heat warning for san francisco. calling for dangerously hot conditions heading into labor day weekend. and on this absurdly hot day in san francisco, the people inside the russian consulate, this ominous looking brick building near the marina, they had a weird way of dealing with the heat wave today. they decided to light a fire. this was the russian consulate in san francisco today. black smoke billowing out of the chimney right next to that russian flag waving around in the san francisco heat. now, obviously it is not normal to see smoke pouring out of a fireplace on one of the hottest
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days of the year, so somebody actually called the fire department. when the fire department showed up, the russian diplomats said don't worry, guys, we're all good here. the russian consulate actually turned the fire department away. the diplomats would not let them into the building. as the associated press reported today, the russian consulate staff told the fire department that they were burning unidentified items in a fireplace. nothing to see here, you guys. but thanks for stopping by. even on a normal day this is totally bizarre, right? there are lots of ways to get rid of things that you don't want in an office. i hear that staples has a great deal on shredders. but this was not a normal day at the russian consulate. yesterday the state department told the russian government to pack up and get out of san francisco pronto. the u.s. told russia yesterday their diplomats have to vacate the consulate in san francisco by saturday as well as two annexes in new york and d.c., as part of the ongoing retaliation
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over russia hacking our election. which is why that smoke today touring out of the russian chimney was so suspicious. the flames went up less than a day before they were ordered to evacuate the premises. my guess is they were not making s'mores. a lot of what happens between the united states and russia, especially in this complicated weird time for our two countries, goes on in secret. it doesn't usually play out in the bright of day. secret tables, closed door meetings espionage. and undercover spies. but today there was smoke in san francisco in a heat wave. which is funny. but what the two sides are fighting about is not funny at all. russia really did attack us last year in a few very different ways. there was the attack on our political system, on our political parties, the russian hack of the dnc, and the hillary clinton campaign. there was an attack on you, russia spreading disinformation through social media to try to tip public opinion toward donald trump. and there was one more prong to this attack. one really important weapon in
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russia's arsenal that has not gotten nearly as much attention. and that is the attack on our election, the infrastructure, on the ways that we vote in this country. this show has reported a lot on how elections in this country are decentralized. we talk about how a single election is not really a single election but a bit really like picking a president is like a big clump of small individual elections all over the country. thousands and thousands of them. which is why if you wanted to try and hack the election, if you wanted to break into voting machines and start running up the score for the candidate of your choice, it would actually be really hard. you can't pop the hood and start cutting wires. you'd have to crack 9,000 different systems across 50 different states. but physically changing the vote totals is not the only way to swing the outcome of an election. another way to do it, an easier way to do it is to keep actual people from voting in the first place. this show, for example, has talked about what happened in
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dallas county in texas before people started heading to the polls in dallas county this time last november. before that happened something alarming started happening to the voting systems there. the fbi had sent out this scary looking flash to election officials all across the country before the election. local counties were given ip addresses and web servers connected to hackers that the fbi said were trying to break into electoral systems and federal authorities wanted local official to run a check to make sure that there were no signs of those ip addresses in their systems. and when dallas county ran that check, they found out not just one but they found 17 computers from 17 of those addresses flagged by the fbi that they had tried to break into dallas county's voter rolls. at least some of which were from computers in russia. dallas county has over a million voters in the data base. it has your name, date of birth,
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your addresses which determines where you get to vote in a place like dallas county which is a blue county, the voter rolls are packed with democrats. dallas county is a bright blue dot in that sea of red. hillary clinton lost the state of texas and the presidential election, but she won dallas county by a whopping 26 points. dallas is a center of democratic votes in the state of texas. so when local reporters asked a couple of neighboring republican counties whether they also experienced the attempts to hack in, the republican county said no, not as far as they could tell. so the democratic-leaning county was targeted. its republican neighbors were not. there was a lot at stake here. if you're able to get into that election system and start messing around with all those voter files, you could actually do some serious damage just by changing one digit, for instance, in someone's address or changing a letter in their name. you could presumably keep thousands of voters from casting ballots. this is how you swing an election. without changing one digit of
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the vote tallies, you can keep people from actually voting. you can actually create chaos at the polls which brings us to a place call durham, north carolina. >> welcome to the election hq on election night. >> we'll be here all night watching the big races on air. >> the big news at this hour, eight durham precincts extending a full hour to 8:30. >> this comes after several precincts had problems with the voting check-in system, the computers didn't work right so they went to paper books. >> durham county has more democrats than any other county in north carolina. on election night durham's voting machines were working fine. it was the voting check-in system that was causing problems. when voters gave their names to sign in at the polls, lots of people were told they were ineligible to vote for a variety of reasons. local officials blamed a combination of human error and software malfunctions. but it turns out that the
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company had also been hit by russian hackers months before the election. it's unclear how many people were kept from voting because of that check-in problem in durham or how many people got frustrated by the delays and the long lines because of that problem and just gave up. nor is it clear that the hacking created problems at the polls. the company officials believe that they fended off the hackers -- that they fended off the hackers. and there's a lot that we don't know about what happened in durham, north carolina, and across the country. but just today we got this unsettling report from the "the new york times" that the hacking of our electoral systems is quote, more extensive than previously disclosed. besides the company in north carolina, quote, hackers breached at least two other providers of critical election service well ahead of the 2016 voting. the officials would not disclose the names of the companies. all this time after the
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election, the times reports that local and state and federal agencies have conducted little of the type of digital friendsic investigation that's required to assess the impact, if any, on voting in at least 21 states whose election systems were targeted by russian hackers. now our next major election is around the corner, the mid terms are next november. so who will be sure that we are ready? joining us now is susan greenhall, an election special with a nonprofit called verified voting foundations. susan was monitoring the problems in durham, north carolina, during the last election. thank you so much for being here. >> thank you for having me. >> could you explain to us what were the sort of problems that people were having when they tried to vote in durham? >> i was working at the election protection coalition hot line. we were taking calls from people having trouble voting on election day. we got a lot of calls from people right off the bat in durham county unable to vote because there was incorrect information in the electronic poll books. the electronic poll book is a
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way of checking voters in rather than having a paper work. you have the electronic poll book. and the information there was wrong, either people were told that they had the wrong address, they were at the wrong location, they had voted early, voted during absentee voting. when they were saying i know i didn't vote early. i was at my cousin's wedding the day they said i did. the people were being told that they couldn't vote and the poll books were taken off line in the entire county which then caused greater problems because now nobody could vote. >> were you able to determine that these kinds of problems that you saw taking place in durham did not happen in more republican counties? was it specifically a problem just in durham? >> they were much more pronounced and intensified in durham. we had some problems. but i didn't look at how they broke down as far as the demographics go. we were just worried to make sure people got to vote and cast their vote. >> and is there a way to determine definitively if the
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of a hacked system or a system malfunction? >> that's the important question. if you were trying to mess with the voter rolls to keep people from voting, you would cause the type of chaos that we saw on the ground in durham, to keep people from being able to cast their vote. but we don't know if that was caused by some benign malfunction or by some malicious attack. but what's worrisome is that it was the same vendor that had been targeted by the russians. >> and it was the same vendor that had been determined in other states you're saying that had been targeted by russians? >> the same vendor had been identified in a news story before the election and in an nsa document that was leaked. >> do we know whether or not that vendor is still being used in north carolina and whether there's been anything done post election to try to mitigate against the same thing happening again? >> so the vendor is still being used in north carolina and many states. but they did an investigation but it wasn't a very strong
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forensic investigation where we would want to have one with serious security jobs looking at the code or the audit logs. hopefully they're doing a further examination now although it's a little late. it should have, in my mind, been done a little earlier. but the way to best protect this is to have strong contingency plans. to have election officials aware of backup poll books that they could use. part of the problem in durham county is that the electronic poll book provided a place for the voter to sign in. that was done on electronic interface. now the poll books aren't working, now you need paper book version of that. but they only had a couple of those in the books so they had to send people out to make copies and that further delayed voting, caused the line and perhaps caused people to leave. >> are you worried about the next election in north carolina? >> i'm worried about the next election across the country. because we really need to take this seriously. this is a national security issue. this is something where we have
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a foreign adversary coming to try to disrupt the legitimacy of our government and the legitimacy of our elections and we need to be protecting all parts of our election infrastructure. >> do you feel the state is taking it seriously now? >> i think they might be now. >> thank you very much. susan greenhall, election specialist. thank you for your time. and i just want to add that in addition to the burning of unidentified items at the russian consulate in san francisco, foreign policy magazine posted this video of something burning outside the russian trade representative building this afternoon. moving on, we promised a glimpse tonight inside the trump/russia investigation. but first let's look back to early may. >> did the president fire director comey to impede the russia investigation? >> well, as you know very clearly, as has been stated repeatedly and the president has been told, he's not under investigation.
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there is no evidence of collusion. >> but the director clapper -- >> between our campaign and any russian officials. >> but intelligence officials have said there's investigation into potential ties when campaign officials and russian officials. >> that's not what this is about. >> what about the president's dissatisfaction with the russia probe? did that play into this, sir? >> let me be very clear that the president's decision to accept the recommendation of the deputy attorney general and the attorney general to remove director comey as the head of the fbi was based solely and exclusively on his commitment to the best interest of the american people. >> that was vice president mike pence the day after president donald trump fired fbi director james comey. repeatedly and emphatically denying that it had anything to do with the russia investigation. rather the president was following the advice of the
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attorney general and deputy attorney general in his decision to terminate the fbi director. of course trump's termination letter also included this memorable line, while i greatly appreciate you informing me on three separate occasions that i am not under investigation, i nevertheless concur with the department of justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau. trump would essentially blow a hole in his own defense just a few days later. in an interview with nbc's lester holt in which he admitted that he, indeed, had russia on his mind when he made the decision. now today, both "the new york times" and "the washington post" are reporting that comey's termination letter wasn't the only letter drafted by the president. special counsel robert mueller is now reviewing a second letter drafted by the president and a top aide days before he fired james comey. according to "the post" the multi-page letter enumerated the complaints with comey. including trump's frustration that comey was unwilling to say
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publicly that trump was not personally under investigation. according to reports, this original letter which the president drafted with the help of his policy adviser stephen miller was never sent after aides including white house counsel found it problematic and advised against sending it. now that letter is in the hands of the special counsel where it will likely become key evidence into the investigation of whether the comey firing was part of an effort to obstruct justice in the information. joining us is paul butler. former prosecutor and msnbc legal analyst. great to have you here. >> great to be here. >> let's talk about what does appear to be donald trump's ongoing complaints, at least according to the report in the "new york times" and "the washington post" that comey was refusing to publicly exonerate him. if it turns out that the reason that he chose to fire jim comey is that jim comey wouldn't publicly exonerate him, does that rise to the level of obstruction of justice? >> probably not.
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trump could actually use that as a defense to an obstruction of justice prosecution. he could say i don't respect the norms of my office. firing james comey was not good policy so i'm a mean guy but i'm not a criminal. i didn't obstruct justice. if on the other hand the letter reveals that his intent in firing comey was to try to impede the investigation, which he was calling fake news, then that would be smoking gun evidence of obstruction of justice. >> the other sort of interesting aspect of these stories that we heard today was the idea that donald trump had this letter that he wanted to originally send, that the white house counsel says there's something problematic about this letter, we don't know what was problematic about it but donald trump turns around and relies on a letter from rod rosenstein and uses that as a pretext to fire
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comey. what kind of position does that put rod rosenstein in because it sounds like he's still the acting a.g. or person in charge of the investigation or potentially a witness. >> he's a fact witness if this investigation is centering on why james comey was fired. so rosenstein will have to recuse himself at some point. we also have to note that james comey in this matter is no choir boy. he talks too much. that's a bad trait in a law enforcement agent. so he should never have told james comey that -- james comey should never have told donald trump that he wasn't a subject of the investigation. that's an inappropriate conversation between the fbi director and the president. so there may very well have brown a good reason to fire james comey but that may not have been the reason that trump used to fire him. >> what's interesting is you have donald trump today, sort of after some communications with chuck glassily, one of the republicans on the judiciary committee, then he tweets out
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another accusation of jim comey essentially saying he cleared hillary clinton at the wrong time in the investigation. sort of reracking this hillary clinton-based pretext for him being fired. this is getting very muddled. you have donald trump saying he had russia on his mind but going back to the idea saying there was something in the way that comey hired clinton that got him fired. >> this is a classic move by trump to try to deflect and point the blame some place else. but special agent mueller has this ace team of some of the nation's best prosecutors and law enforcement agents. we talked yesterday about how he now has ci from the tax division, people who really know how to make a case. i don't think that they're going to be susceptible to trump trying to change the subject. they're focused on collusion and obstruction of justice. >> do you expect don magon to be
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done because mueller wants to talk to him as well? >> i'm sure he wants to but there he's the white house counsel so there's attorney-client privilege. if mueller thinks that the white house counsel is implicated in a crime then he would be able to talk to him and privilege wouldn't apply. so far we haven't heard that. as much as he would like to talk to the white house counsel, i don't think he's going to be able to do that. >> paul butler, thank you very much. great to talk to you. >> great to be here. and all week one texas reporter has been asking what exactly is in this chemical plant northeast of houston. that question has never been more urgent than tonight when that plant was engulfed in flames and that reporter joins us next with the latest on what he's discovered. stay with us.
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this was the arkema chemical plant in crosby, texas last night. the plant has been without power for days submerged under flood waters from hurricane harvey. and as the organic peroxides they produce have lost refrigeration, those chemicals have begun heating up and igniting. this was the fire yesterday after one container exploded. arkema executives warned that there were eight more containers of those peroxides on the site. the plant had 500,000 pounds of the stuff and the company said there was nothing to be done but to wait for the other containers to ignite as well. this is the chemical plant as of this evening. the company says two more containers have gone up in flames. as you can see, the flames and that black plume of smoke are just massive.
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there are six more to go. residents remain evacuated for 1.5 miles around the plant. state and company officials have been saying that the smoke is noxious and that people should avoid it, but they insist it's not seriously dangerous. that said, we still don't know exactly what's inside the plant because neither arkema nor the state of texas will release a detailed inventory of the chemicals there. joining us by phone is matt dempsey and he's been writing about the dangers of texas' chemical plants and has been pressing arkema executives for information about exactly what chemicals are in that plant. matt, thanks for joining us. do you know any more tonight about what's in the chemical mixture that's spewing into the air out of that plant than you did last night? >> no, we don't. it's the same situation. in fact the only thing we know for sure is that arkema is refusing to provide the
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information. they back tracked from a promise they made at a press conference to me. now we're stuck with essentially we know they are organic peroxides. i have some idea from an older chemical inventory. the public should be safe from the fumes and smoke and the fire as long as they're not within a mile and a half of the facility where the evacuation zone is, but there's still a lot of other stuff on that site. and the concern for a lot of people is what happens if something happens to those things s things. >> that's the other thing. you till have more fires to burn. i'm wondering, at some point is there not a public safety consideration that gives the people who live and work around the arkema plant the legal right to know what is in those plumes of smoke. it's kind of shocking i think for the rest of the country that they have no right to know. >> right. in fact, the ceo of the company said that the reason they decided not to provide the tier two, the chemical inventory was
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that they were balancing the need of the public to know and the need for the public to be safe. and what he means -- i know that sounds insane considering what's going on. but what he was meaning by that is the threat of terrorism. the terrorism threat is the reason why all these chemical inventories have been blocked in the state of texas. so when you say the public safety threat, i completely agree with you. i think a lot of people agree with you. the state of texas ruled that is not the case. the threat of terrorism is more dangerous than something like this or something we said in our series. there's a major chemical event that happens in houston every six weeks. there has been maybe two instances ever of anything remotely related to terrorism with chemical facilities in the united states. >> yep. wow. pretty incredible. matt dempsey of "the houston chronicle." thank you, man. thanks for your time. >> thanks for having me on again. appreciate it. >> much more to come. stay with us.
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tonight millions of americans, immigrants, and their families and friends are on pins and needles waiting to hear if the president of the united states will drive a spike through the heart of dacca. deferred action of arrivals is the program that coaxed 800,000 undocumented immigrants out of the shadows, people who were brought to this country as children. america is the only country they've ever known. the white house claims they will
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announce dacca's fate on tuesday. we shall see. if you're wondering why this is all happening now, here is why. right now september 5th is circled in red on the president's calendar, an arbitrary plucked out of nowhere deadline given to the white house by these guys, ten republican state attorneys general and one governor who formed a kind of anti-dreamers s.w.a.t. team. they've said basically pull the plug on daca or else. in june they tired off this letter in which they called dacca uni unlawful and respectfully requested it be phased out. at least they asked respectfully. of course they went on to say that if the president doesn't go along with their respectful request by september 5th, they'll sue. that was in june. but tonight with that deadline just days away, there is an 11th hour curve ball. tonight one of those ten
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republican states attorney general plus one governor, one of them switched teams. herbert slattery iii. this afternoon attorney general slattery had a sudden change of heart and he's now bailing on his republican comrades and their threat to sue over daca. writing, quote, there is a human element to this that is not lost on me and should not be ignored. he went to say, quote, many of the daca recipients whose records i reviewed have outstanding accomplishments and laudable ambitions which achieved will be of great benefit and service to our country. huh. kind of makes you wonder what got him to see the light. here's one possible explanation. protesters gathered in nashville earlier this month with a message for vice president pence who was there for a gop fund raiser demanding that he defend daca. there has been no letup in tennessee. last month daca supporters
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marched in chattanooga. last week a letter writing campaign in johnson city. concerned citizens have been keeping the pressure on. as we head into the labor day weekend with daca's future uncertain, remember what we saw today in tennessee. pressure works. joining us now is advocacy director at the united we dream network. miss martinez, thank you for joining us tonight. talk a bit about the pressure that's been put on in tennessee. do you think that the same kind of pressure can potentially work not only on these other governors and attorneys general but maybe even on donald trump? >> yeah, since january, immigrant young people from all across the country have had their eye set on protecting the daca program and protecting our families. and what happened the tennessee today is just another example that it's working. that people all across the country recognize that daca works. that daca is freedom for someone like me and 800,000 young people who have grown up undocumented in this country. you saw companies come out,
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attorneys generals come out. 20 attorney generals say they stand with daca. so i think that immigrant young people, united we dream, we're ready to fight back because we know this is the right thing to do. >> have you been surprised by any of the support you've seen come out in favor of keeping daca in place? >> not at all surprised. i know this is where the country is. there is a vicious attack on daca that is brought about by the white supremacy agenda. there's a march right now from charlottesville to d.c. demanding that daca stay in place. and i'm excited to join them and i know that you are and the people that are watching the show like our freedom fighters, people that believe in justice and in hope. i know that you're going to join us. >> and what would you say to president donald trump if you could speak to him tonight? >> i'd say watch out. i'd say i think that this is your choice. this is your moment to show what side of history you're going to land on. this is a clear choice. are you with the white supremacy
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agenda or young people of color? if you're with young people of color, our families, and freedom fighters, you need to stand on. the right side of history. >> all right. advocacy director for united we dream network and daca recipient, thank you very much. >> thank you. >> joining us now is a representative of new york. he's the first dominican american and first undocumented immigrant to be elected to congress. thank you for being here. >> good to see you again. >> sort of the same question to you. you've seen an incredible outpouring of support for the daca, the dreamers. whether it's members of the business community. you've even had one member of this original group of people that wanted to overturn it change his mind in tennessee. has any of the support surprised you? >> no. really, no. once you meet these young people, they win you over. their loyalty to the country, they're such an american story. you can't really turn your backs on them. when i met them, i marched with them on columbus circle the
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other day and i was overwhelmed. one of them came as a 9-year-old from the dominican republic. 60% of them got a new job. 59% of them saw some level of increase in their earnings. in addition to that, 54% of them opened a bank account and 33% of them got their first credit card. they are an important force for the economic growth of our nation. and to turn our backs against them would not only be egregious for our standing in the world as a nation of immigrants, but also a bad decision economically for our country. so trump, don't do it. just don't do it. >> donald trump is getting obviously a lot of pressure from his base that makes the argument that it would set a bad precedent if the federal government sort of wipes away the violation of immigration laws that was committed by the parents of these young people. what do you say to them? >> these young people are here, they're going to school,
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they're working. they haven't violated the law. they're standing americans. they're so proud to be part of this experiment called the united states of america. why turn our backs on them? they're our future. they're our present right now. they're college students, professionals. every level, every area of our economy you find a daca worker. you know, corporate america has a close warming to them. the labor unions loves them. you know, we as immigrants, we embraced them. 20 years down the line we're going to look at them and say maybe they didn't face dogs or water hoses, but these guys, these young people did well for america. they took us to another level. so why turn against them? >> let me ask you this question. you did have speaker paul ryan mildly come out in his paul ryan way say i don't think the president should do it this way. ironically enough, could this threat to daca result in congress finally sitting down
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and doing immigration reform in a way that could actually protect these daca recipients legally through legislation? >> well both myself and the congressman from nevada, two formerly undocumented members of congress, sent a letter to the president and paul ryan asking him not to join the rescinding effort of the daca benefits for these 800,000 young people that are here in america. but i think we need a comprehensive immigration reform discussion. the congress in chicago led the american hope act which i think brings some solution to the daca issue. and then of course we have the bridge act which is a piece of legislation in congress that addresses this issue. but to answer the immigration question, we must have a full comprehensive discussion about immigration reform. ronald reagan did it. >> yeah, he did. >> he's on the other side of the aisle. why can't they do it now? >> we shall see.
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congressman, thank you very much. we appreciate your time. thank you. and when we come back, the latest on this. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ wow! nice outfit. when i grow up, i'm going to mars. we're working on that.
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he first rode down the golden escalator in trump tower to announce he was throwing husband proverbial hat into the presidential ring. when he talked about building a wall on the border with mexico. which he also claimed was sending rapists to the u.s. back then and in rally after rally since, mexico was going to pay for the wall. since then trump seems to have backed away from mexico footing the bill. probably because they kept saying no. so trump moved on to the vague concept that eventually we'd be reimbursed to mexico somehow some day. but darn it, we're going to build it, even if it means shutting down the government. just last week donald trump threatened to go to the mat in order to get the $1.6 billion to that he needs to fund the wall. at that campaign style rally in phoenix last week, he said, quote, if we have to close down our government, we're building that wall. and the crowd went wild. just listen. >> build that wall!
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build that wall! build that wall! >> build that wall. build that wall. you got it. the president wanted that $1.6 billion to be tacked on to continuing resolution which congress must pass by the end of september in order to get the government from shutting down. but not so fast. tonight "the washington post" is reporting that the president is backing down from that threat. apparently 48 hours after that rabble rousing spreee ining spe phoenix, the white house quietly notified congress that the $1.6 billion would not need to be in that continuing resolution after all. never mind. apparently trump has a backup plan, quote, the president wants the funding to be included in the december budget bill. in other words, a game of kicking the border wall down the road. meanwhile fans do have one piece of news to hang on to. the white house revealed its
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short list of contractors to build that big, beautiful wall as the president is fond of calling it. what is being hailed as a significant milestone, the four finalists will start building prototypes in san diego in the coming weeks. the white house is expected to pick four more finalists next week to build prototypes with alternative materials with see-through capability. the department of homeland security will pick a winner based on a variety of criteria, including whether the wall is aesthetically pleasing in color from the u.s. side and whether it can stand digging six feet below the surface. the prototypes will be ready to go within 30 days of breaking ground. meaning come thanksgiving, we'll probably have a bunch of border wall options with no way to pay for it. watch this space. hold on dad... liberty did what? yeah, liberty mutual 24-hour roadside assistance helped him to fix his flat so he could get home safely. my dad says our insurance doesn't have that.
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back in january, president elect donald trump nominated an attorney general as you do. and then the senate judiciary committee held a confirmation hearing for the president elect's pick, as you do. the president's nominee, alabama's junior senator jefferson sessions was introduced to the panel by his senior senator, as you do. an activist from the peace and social justice group code pink was watching from the back of the room as they do. and when senator richard shelby made a certain statement that she found laughable, the activist did pretty much what anybody might do. listen carefully.
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it's a little bit tough to hear. >> unfortunately, since the announcement of his nomination, jeff's politic attacked his character with baseless and tired allegations. but in reality, jeff sessions' extensive record of treating all americans equally under the law is clear and well documented. [ laughter ]>> okay. did you hear that? let's play it for you one more time. >> jeff sessions' extensive record of treating all americans equally under the law is clear and well documented. [ laughter ] >> that was honestly the clearest audio we had of that laughter, which maybe played bigger in the room because here's what happened a few while senator susan collins was introducing the nominee, behind her, capitol police officers
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were arresting the woman who had laughed. as she was hauled out of the room she was vocal about it. code pink is a group of activists, mostly women, who protest for peace and social justice, and they're pretty easy to spot what with the pink shirts and pink crowns. so it's not unusual for them to cause disruptions and to be hauled away and arrested. what does seem unusual is that the lawyers who now work for attorney general jeff sessions are not letting this go. nearly eight months later. ryan reilly, a reporter who covers criminal justice and legal affairs for the huffington post has been following this story for months. according to his reporting, the officer who arrested the protester was a rookie, and this was her very first arrest. while the defense argued in court that her laughter was not a good enough reason for the prosecution in the first place, the government attorney argued at trial, quote, i would submit that laughter is enough, standing alone, to merit a charge.
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the jury convicted. the defense asked the judge to toss the verdict, and the judge sided with the defense saying, quote, the court is concerned about the government's theory. in other words, the judge said to the justice department, you had better not be arguing that that bit of laughter at a confirmation hearing was worth prosecuting this woman for. the judge threw out the jury's verdict and declared a new trial, which brings us to today. nearly eight months later, the case is back in court to see if the parties can't somehow settle this without a whole new trial. the prosecution offered a plea deal, but the protester did not want to plead guilty. so they're due back in court in november. ten months after that outburst of laughter. so is the justice department really not going to let this go? joining us now by phone is that protester, desiree fairooz, a member of code pink. thank you very much for being here. >> thank you so much, joy, for having me. >> desiree, to clear it up, what is it that you were -- what
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charges were you convicted of? >> i was convicted of parading and disruption of congress. >> repeat that one more time because your phone broke up a little bit. >> i'm sorry. i was convicted of parading and disruption of congress. >> parading and disruption of congress. what would be the penalty -- what are the maximum sort of penalties for that conviction? >> the maximum is six months plus a fine. i believe it's $500 for each charge. that's the maximum time that -- >> and do you know what the prosecution was recommending because up to six months in jail for laughing seems a little excessive. >> correct. i feel a little less worried since my colleagues also who were arrested in the hearing received suspended sentences
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and -- >> yeah. let me ask you this question. >> and probation. >> if they received probation, why not just plead out and end this thing? >> because i don't feel that i should admit to any guilt. i'd seen people laughing during hearings many times before, and no one got arrested. even in the same hearing, members were laughing, and no one got arrested. so honestly, i was shocked that i'm still facing these charges. i was expecting today that the charges would have been dropped, that the government would have said, you know, we're not going to pursue this any further. >> and is it being made clear to you by the government, by the prosecutors, that it's the laughing that they are prosecuting you for and not the later disruption when you were removed? >> well, now after the judge's
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ruling, the prosecution needs to shift their strategy, and i'm not quite sure what to expect in november because the only reason why i was arrested to begin with was because of the laughter. >> yeah. >> so i don't understand how it can proceed. >> pretty incredible. so you were expecting this to go to trial, i guess, in november. can you keep us posted on what happens? >> definitely. and i am so glad that you're interested in this case because it's so important that people stand up for our freedom of speech. this is a constitutional issue, and as we see this administration chipping away at all our rights, we need to stay together, stay strong, and continue to speak out when our rights are being infringed upon. thank you, joy. i love your show and used to watch you on saturday mornings on my lunch time.
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>> thank you very much. i really appreciate it. completely unsolicited. thank you very much. good luck. >> thank you. >> wow, prosecuted for laughing. i've seen a lot. thank you very much. ve. and at our factory in boston, 1,200 workers are starting their day building on over a hundred years of heritage, craftsmanship and innovation. today we're bringing you america's number one shave at lower prices every day. putting money back in the pockets of millions of americans. as one of those workers, proud to bring youons gillette quality for less, because nobody can beat the men and women of gillette. gillette - the best a man can get. (flourish spray noise) (flourish spray noise) (flourish spray noise) (flourish spray noise) reddi-wip. (flourish spray noise) share the joy.
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that does it for us tonight. you can catch me tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. eastern for a.m. joy including our special hour on the state of flux that 800,000 immigrants are living in right now, waiting to hear whether the president is going to reverse the obama-era policy that allowed undocumented
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immigrants who were brought to this country as children to stay legally. these are your friends, your neighbors, your co-workers, and we'll feature their stories collected by the folks at define american. you don't want to miss it. msnbc live is up next. good morning, everyone. i'm dara brown in new york at msnbc headquarters. harvey aftermath, new dangers today as waters recede, including flash fires at a chemical plan leaving many to wonder what is in the air and in the water. >> gas stations running out of gas. how bad might it get? president trump is set to visit texas today. and


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